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I did it! Gained so much more than I lost.


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Waring: this is a very long post :)


I have officially completed my first round of Whole30. 30 days of only real food including fruits, veggies, protein and healthy fats. I took on this challenge for a few reasons and learned so much more along the way. I came across Whole30 on social media awhile back and decided I wanted learn more about the seemingly impossible program and bought the book that explained all of the rules, the whys, what to expect, etc. I took a couple months to really read about and understand the program, prep my pantry/home/mind/friends/family/co-workers, planned a start date that would make sense for me in terms of what I had going on that month and decided to go with a January 2nd start date. A new year and a new challenge to conquer. 

First, I’ll start off with what I lost. Many people think that Whole30 is a 30 day quick-fix diet to lose weight. It’s actually the complete opposite of that. It is not meant to be a sustainable “diet”, but rather a sort of reset to learn what foods are healthy for YOU. Every body, every mind, every person is different. What is healthy for one person, may not be healthy for you. By losing added sugar (real & artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, sulfites/additives and re-created baked goods, you gain the opportunity to rest your body. By taking these items out of my diet and working out almost daily, I lost 4.5lbs and 4.25in overall over the course of my 30 days…though this loss is not what was important to me as I am already at a healthy body weight for my age/gender/etc. What’s important to me is that I sustained my 60ish+ pound weight-loss that happened over the course of 2016 WITHOUT COUNTING CALORIES or worrying about if what I was eating was healthy, because it was. I ate all real foods when I was hungry. I learned to listen to my body. I learned that I don’t need to use a mobile app to control what is put into my body. 

Without counting calories, I don’t think I could’ve lost the weight that I lost in 2016. However, when counting calories starts to add even more anxiety and stress to your daily life, that’s when you start to feel down on yourself. You feel like your self-worth is dependent on whether or not you eat the “right” number of calories that day…which I later found were set way too low for the amount I had been working out. Calories don’t speak for the nutrition in the food or how that food makes you feel in terms of health, energy and so many other aspects of your daily life. Tracking everything that I ate became a habit, a bad habit that I NEEDED to break in order to break that negative cycle of self-hate. I would eat a little bit all day (every couple hours) and meet my calorie intake goal, but would find myself STARVING every night because I just wasn’t eating enough nutrient dense, caloric dense food to sustain my workouts and daily life - which led to bingeing. Yes, bingeing. NOT having a snack, but eating whatever was available to me in my kitchen until I was in actual physical pain. Which led to me eating more, because what do you do when you’re sad? Happy? Or any emotion? Eat. That’s what we learn from countless advertisements, media and even our own friends and family. Well, when you keep eating without even coming up for air because you truly just can’t find the will or the want to stop, you feel bad about yourself. You feel like a failure. You feel like nothing matters. You just don’t care. And you cry yourself to sleep. That’s the downward spiral I was facing and wanted SO badly to break this cycle. That’s what Whole30 has STARTED to do for me. I say started, because nothing can be fixed overnight. Working toward food freedom will be a lifelong battle and I completely accept and realize that fact. I will binge again. It will happen, but now I have the tools and the frame of mind to get back on track and work to break that cycle if/when it happens.

During Whole30 I did binge (on only compliant food) 3 times and I am not proud of that (though, I had been bingeing about 3 times A WEEK for the prior months). When it happened, I of course felt bad and down on myself, but I also chose to journal that. I journaled every day during Whole30. So happy I did – even when I really didn’t have much to say. Through journaling, I realized what some of my triggers are in terms of cravings, bingeing, etc. For example, every time I binged I was alone in the house. This comes up toward the end of Food Freedom as a very normal response for anyone who has a history of bingeing. You feel as though you can “get away” with it. I took my realization and put it down on paper in the form of “If – Thens.” I now have a plan set in place for myself to follow in this situation. No plan is full-proof, BUT I am working very hard on making these positive changes for myself. To continue to work toward food freedom as my long-term goal. 

Now, for what I gained during Whole30. 

• My skin is glowing and has way less acne on my face and my back (a problem area)
• A rash that had formed on my back is now gone (not sure if this is related)
• My new “skinny” clothes that had started getting tight, in part due to my recent bingeing habits and in part due to the holidays, are fitting comfortably again 
• Less bloating 
• Less joint pain in my problem knee
• Feeling much more confident in my appearance – heck, I’ve been wearing colored lipstick lately… something that I just never felt my lips/face could pull off. My face hasn’t changed, but my confidence level has.
• Less stomach pain overall 
• More “regular” if you know what I mean
• Fewer headaches (other than those pesky weather related all over headaches) 

Mood, Emotion, Psychology:
• I feel happier all around
• I am genuinely proud of my accomplishment 
• I feel as though I am handling stress better 
• Much less depressed in terms of how I feel about myself 
• Fewer cravings in general 
• Improved self-esteem and self-confidence 
• Less reliance on the scale to tell me if I am “good enough” that day 
• Feeling in control of what I put in my body 

Food and Behaviors 
• I feel as though I’ve started to build a healthier relationship with food 
• Definite improvement of what could be disordered eating habits
• Eating mindfully and with intent at the kitchen table
• Listening to when my body is hungry vs. when I am bored/stressed/anxious/craving 

• I am sleeping more soundly at night on the regular 
• Typically falling asleep more easily than in the past 
• I have been having a fairly easy time getting out of bed in the morning because I feel as though my quality of sleep has improved

• My energy levels are higher
• I don’t feel the midday slump at 3PM at work
• I don’t feel the need to eat every 2 hours
• I have been MUCH less “hangry”… ask my boyfriend… it’s a major improvement 

• I feel more knowledgeable about nutrition and what I am putting in my body
• I really know how to read a food label now
• I tried many new recipes and my meal prep/planning has become pretty top notch if you ask me 
• I bought new paleo cook books to keep up with this way of eating in the future

Overall, my Whole30 experience was a very positive one – truly one of the best decisions I could’ve made for myself at the perfect time. It’s not for everyone – It’s a drastic change and really is an emotional journey, even more so than a “diet”. Our lives revolve around food and its emotional connection whether it’s realized or not. Whole30 MAKES you realize that emotional relationship and connection that is formed by food across the board. 

What’s next for me? I will be following reintroduction to take this opportunity of a clean slate to find out what food is healthy for ME. I will be bringing back one “food group” at a time while keeping the rest of my diet Whole30 that day. Followed by two back to back days of Whole30 and so on. I will continue to journal how I am feeling both physically and emotionally so that I can find out what I’d like to keep as a part of my regular diet and how often, in what quantities, etc. 

2/1: Legumes
2/3: GF drinks
2/7: Corn 
2/10: Non-gluten grains
2/14: Dairy
2/18 and/or 2/19: Gluten 

As my reward for completing Whole30, I bought myself 3 new paleo cookbooks so that I am inspired to continue to eat the way that I have been for the past 30 days in combination with what I find out over my reset. I will not be “labeling” the way I eat. I will be creating a new plan specific to ME! A paleo-ish, whatever makes Val feel good and healthy eating plan! 

I have also decided to take on the Whole30 again starting March 18th. I will have had a month of just living, eating what I find to be healthy for me both physically and mentally and what’s “worth it.” I will also have taken a trip to Vegas and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by March 18th AKA it’ll be the perfect time for a reset. I don’t have much going on in terms of social events or holidays between then and Easter (Whole 29 if we’re being technical). 

Today, I am a Whole30 Alumni. Today, I am proud of myself. Today, I feel beautiful. Today, I am happy. 

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Love this!  Your post really resonated with me.  I've also found that breaking the fixation with measuring, tracking, weighing EVERYTHING (my food and myself) has been one of the most powerful changes I've experienced after 2 rounds of Whole30.  I'm eating great food, getting healthier every day and loving myself.

Congratulations on your accomplishment and your fantastic attitude.  Good luck going forward!!

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